Equipped for handling your family adventure or a night on the town, the 2021 Toyota Sequoia Nightshade edition might be designed to hide under the radar, yet it stands toe to toe with the segment leader Chevy Tahoe.
As an automotive journalist, I get the pleasure of driving all the different trucks and SUVs on the market. This can make one a bit snobbish when it comes to comparing an older platform like the Sequoia against a newly redesigned model like the Tahoe. Yet, this comparison is what a lot of consumers do each day. If I ignored all the flashy new items found on the new 2021 Chevy Tahoe, the Sequoia actually holds its own.
Here are four reasons why the Sequoia is better.
Toyota Sequoia wins for reliability
All the flashy features are great — when they work. The reality is reliability is a big part of any vehicle purchase since the last thing you want to experience is a car filled with cargo, your family, the family pet sitting alongside the side of the road. Trust me on that one.
The fact is, there is something to be said for not changing what works and working out the kinks years ago, the Sequoia is one of the more reliable full-size SUVs on the market. Don’t take my word for it, consumer driven reliability reporting like that found on Consumer Reports backs up this claim (subscription required).
Consumer Reports gives the 2021 Toyota Sequoia its “recommended” buying choice with an overall score of 68 out of 100 dinging the SUV for fuel economy. The 2021 Chevy Tahoe gets a score of 58 with predicted reliability a concern.
Interior made for kids
Now, you might be thinking, the Chevy Tahoe has a MUCH better interior based on pictures and the rear-seat entertainment system. I mean, it even has a power sliding center console available for storing purses, diaper bags and goldfish crackers (yes, I’m a Dad). This makes it better, right?
In contrast, the Toyota Sequoia has hard plastic surfaces, no fancy screens, no power sliding console and a small screen for infotainment. Rather boring, really, and that’s the best thing.
As a parent, when I look at things my kids will use, I think of terms of “when” and not “if” they will break it especially with my young boys. While the sliding console is nice, I can see my boys finding a creative way of breaking it.
Also, as I have reported on, those big, fancy rear-seat entertainment screens are really just dummy screens for screen sharing from your current cell phone or tablet. Yep, no DVD player there, so unless your kids are tech savvy (and care) they won’t make much use of them.
Toyota, on the other hand, has a fold-down 9″ screen with Blu-Ray player and wireless headphones. Yup, simple, easy to use.
Plus, big knobs throughout the cabin easy to use for everyone including kids.
Oh, and Toyota offers WiFi, same as Chevy, as well as an app for connecting to your vehicle, same as Chevy.
Finally, they both offer about the same amount of safety equipment, while the Tahoe does offer heads-up display if you want it.
But doesn’t Tahoe beat Sequoia with ride comfort?
A big area Chevy Tahoe fans will point to over the Sequoia is the better ride comfort thanks to both the independent rear suspension, magnetic ride control and the four-corner air ride suspension (both available on higher trims). They would be right — except the Sequoia has its own tricks up the sleeve like the adaptive variable suspension system.
Yup, the Sequoia has ride tech as well.
Toyota’s Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system available on the top trim Platinum edition “controls the damping force of the shock absorbers for all four wheels in accordance with driving and road surface conditions.” This is done by adjusting a dial from Comfort, Normal and Sport.
As far as the independent rear suspension replacing the traditional rear axle, the ride comfort can indeed be better for the Tahoe when driving empty. However, loaded down, the full-size SUVs ride mostly the same and it would take a professional track driver to notice the differences.
Toyota Sequoia wins on price
When it comes down to price, a fully loaded 2021 Toyota Sequoia is simply cheaper and, arguably, a better value for the dollar based on the Tahoe.
A topped-out Sequoia starts at $66,250 for the Platinum with no options available. On the other hand, the Tahoe High Country can quickly jump into the $80k range with just a few items selected.
Then, you have special editions like the Nightshade edition I drove for the week with darkened chrome grille, lower grille surround, body side moldings, fog light surrounds, black mirror caps, door handles, and 20-inch black split-spoke alloy. This package starts at $60,220 with a host of standard safety equipment.
The bottom line
While older, the Toyota Sequoia stands tall against the competition in many ways. Shortcomings remain the poor city/highway fuel economy of 13/17 MPG and older design — if that matters to you. Sequoia is often dismissed by critics, yet after a week behind the wheel, it is easy to see why people love them.